Where does PTSD affect the brain?

What is PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or more commonly known as PTSD, is a condition that affects the brain. If you have experienced PTSD at any point in your life, it’s important to know how the different areas of your brain function, and react when subjected to trauma. In short, PTSD is a serious condition that affects how the brain operates, and functions. This can often be triggered by such things as

  • Serious Accidents
  • Physical or Sexual Assault (either as an adult, or in childhood)
  • Serious Health Complications (COVID-19 survivors are a prime example of this)
  • War, and Conflict
  • Experiences during childbirth, such as losing a baby

Essentially, your brain is equipped with a personal alarm system that normally helps ensure your survival. As an example, this could be the ‘fight or flight’ reaction, or when you leave your hand over heat for too long. However, when suffering with PTSD, the neural networks in your brain become overly sensitive, and trigger too easily. In turn, this confuses the areas of your brain that deal with thinking and the memory… the cerebrum and the hippocampus.

Your personal alarm?

The Amygdala is the personal alarm of your brain. It is somewhat ‘Animalistic’ and is hard wired to ensure survival. When you experience a disturbing event, your brain sends a signal to the Amygdala that evokes a fear response. Those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder tend to get an overactive response, and even little things can set off this action. When the Amygdala is over-reactive, it is very difficult to think rationally.

Stop and think

The Amygdala is the personal alarm of your brain. When it becomes overreactive, your brain relies on the pre-frontal cortex. This is the furthest most point of the Neocortex. This area of the brain deals with rationalism, and being able to think through decisions. You could call it the ‘decision-maker’. It is useful when the Amygdala over-reacts as it allows you to ‘put the brakes on’ and regulate over emotional responses. In a case of PTSD, this doesn’t always work the way it should.

The result

An Amygdala that is over-reactive, and when combined with an under-performing Neocortex creates a storm. It’s like being in a car. When you’re driving at 60 miles an hour down the M25, someone with PTSD may slam on the brakes, even when they don’t need to, only to then discover that the brakes do not work.

The bottom line

The Amygdala, the Hippocampus and the Prefrontal Cortex all contribute to actions, and feelings that have a direct link to fear, decision making and your memory. Understanding how these areas of the brain work, can help you to understand why some forms of therapy work better with PTSD.

How can Ed can Help assist with PTSD?

Research in the field of Neuroscience has found that when a state of trauma occurs, the brain essentially freezes. This frozen state is caused by the Amygdala, in the limbic system of the brain. In this frozen state, your thought patterns can become disrupted and the littlest things can set off your fear, anxieties or worries. Ed can Help® re-establishes the plasticity of the brain, meaning that you will no longer be caught up on the fear and trauma. Here at Ed can Help®, we believe sound therapy should be accessible. You’ll find the 20-minute sessions on our app, and it couldn’t be easier to get started. Click here to Download Ed can Help® on IOS and on Google Play